50 YEARS OF SEASIDE ENTERTAINMENT
Was any holiday complete without a visit to the summer show or concert party? The very names conjure up the period -
Sandy Powell’s Startime; Cyril Fletcher’s Summer Masquerade; Hedley Claxton’s Gaytime; The Fol-de-Rols.
And Clarkson Rose’s Twinkle.
Clarkie and his partner Olive Fox presented their first Twinkle on Ryde Pier in 1921.
Over the following 47 years Twinkle had resident summer seasons, with tours in the spring and autumn.
In the winter months Clarkie was one of our busiest and best-loved pantomime dames.
THE STORY OF TWINKLE IS VERY MUCH THE STORY OF BRITISH SEASIDE ENTERTAINMENT DURING THAT PERIOD
In 1935 Twinkle’s summer seasons moved to Eastbourne’s Pier Pavilion: Clarkie and Olive set up home in the town
and were based there for the rest of their lives. Clarkie’s doctor was the infamous John Bodkin Adams, alleged to have
‘eased the passing’ of perhaps 140 of his elderly female patients. Olive never liked him: I wonder why?
The original Eastbourne version of this talk is probably of more interest to those in the south-east.
In 2016 I was asked by Barnstaple U3A for a ‘study day version’ of this talk more relevant to audiences in the south-west.
No problems. When German bombers forced the closure of Eastbourne Pier Clarkie moved Twinkle down to Torquay, where they did three summer seasons and three pantomimes. Twinkle toured once to Barnstaple, often to Exeter - and presented
the last summer season in Exeter’s Theatre Royal. Twinkle’s own final summer season, in 1968, was in Teignmouth.
The south-west had its own thriving seaside entertainment scene - all covered in the Barnstaple version of this talk.
Both versions are presented as a ‘solo performance’ with costumes and props, some songs and a dance.
There is some audience involvement. Oh, yes there is.
It therefore needs a ‘performance space’ - not necessarily a stage - and cannot be done from behind a lectern or dining table.
And a hands-free microphone, please.